Ace of Base: 2018 Chevrolet Cruze L
For years, this place has been saddled with accusations of an anti-GM bias, yet a quick headcount of current contributors who have a product from The General in their driveway reveal more of our own dollars being willingly spent on a Chevy or GMC than most may think – including your author, who just traded away his 2010 Ram for a 2018 Sierra. More on that in another post.
The car shown here occupies a segment of the market where margins are razor thin and profits are cut to the bone. FCA has bailed and Ford is following suit, leaving Chevy to soldier on as the lone Detroiter peddling a Civrollantra alternative.
Spoiler alert: it’s not a penalty box.
The Cruze L is only available with a manual transmission, which is fine by me. Keeps out the riff raff. Its 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec four makes 153 horsepower, very nearly double the number your author had under his right foot while piloting similarly-sized cars twenty years ago. And guess what? Unlike others *cough* Corolla *cough*, the Cruze is endowed with disc brakes at all four corners, rather than prehistoric drums at the rear.
Air conditioning is also standard on the $16,975 Cruze L, along with a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. Infotainment is taken care of by way of a 7-inch touchscreen with all manner of Bluetooth this and CarPlay that. GM’s 4G LTE wi-fi may have sounded like a gimmick when they introduced it so many years ago, but it is a feature that have proven popular in our new Sierra. Sure, it’s another monthly bill but the savvy shopper will bargain for a few months’ trial at purchase. The trunk’s big enough for this Canadian to bring home a whole load of freshly-scuffed sneakers.
Cheap 15-inch tires find themselves wrapped around steel wheels, although GM does bin the spare tire in an outrageous fit of flinty-eyed cost cutting. Sealant and a compressor are included instead, as is roadside assistance, I suppose. Still, spare tires should be standard, methinks. Ten airbags and OnStar will tend to your needs in a crash.
My major gripe is one I consistently level at most base model machinery – the availability of colors. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Chevy’s palette is especially bare, offering only two shades, neither of which are inspiring. Forced to choose, I’d pick the Silver Ice Metallic over the Summit White. They should be called Depressing Fog Metallic and Rental Car White.
The Cruze is not a horrible-looking car, although the base L does suffer from a steering wheel with big plastic ears where buttons would appear on higher-spec trims. This gives the thing an appearance not unlike that of Odo, the shape-shifting Chief of Security on Deep Space Nine, an entity who could never quite correctly mimic the contours of human ears. I’ll reserve judgement on the Cruze’s plastics, leaving that for our resident Cruze owner to comment upon.
Outside, however, the Cruze is a decent looking little car, avoiding such small-car pitfalls that blight other compact machinery such as the tragically-proportioned rear overhang on Nissan’s Versa (yes, that’s a class-size lower).
By these measures, the Cruze L seems to check enough boxes for entry into the Ace of Base club. GM just needs to run the thing though a couple more paint booths.
[Image: General Motors]
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown absent of rebates or incentives, priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.
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